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Learn Assyrian Aramaic

by Expugnator

Address: http://www.assyrianlanguage.com

Authors: Alan Aldawood & Susan Gwarggis

This site represents a well-done attempt to extensively teach a classical language with a non-Latin alphabet over the internet. The important task of teaching an entirely new alphabet like the Aramaic one is by no means under accomplished.

The course is divided into six levels. Currently Level Six is entirely under construction, and new lessons are constantly added to Level Five, which still has to be finished. Level One is entirely dedicated to explaining the letters’ pronunciation and tracing in depth, one single letter at each lesson, just like the teaching of any non-Latin alphabet should be. The lessons even mention the various forms each letter incorporate depending on its position in the word (this is typical of the alphabets used for writing camito-semitic languages like Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew). Level II still covers the alphabet, but now lessons are about the general and unique aspects of the Aramaic alphabet, as well as the placement and pronunciation of the vowels. This makes 54 lessons dedicated to teaching the alphabet of the Aramaic language, and we believe that this is quite an improvement compared to many other “non-Latin alphabet language” sites which just list the letters and their transcription in a chart.

From Level III on, we have the grammar thoroughly but easily explained. The lessons are full of examples with vocabulary and built-in sentences (some of these being taken from the Bible), and there are even dialogues. If you think the greatest barrier for learning an ancient language is the old-fashioned method in which those languages are taught, this is not a problem at all if you want to learn Ancient Aramaic.

The visual aspect of the site is at the same level as its content. The site looks really nice, the choice of colours and fonts was wise and made in a way that makes it very easy for you to distinguish between an Aramaic word, its vowels mark and an English translation. Every Aramaic word can also be heard in a sound file.

The site is not limited to the course, though. There is even a huge and interesting forum where you can have your questions answered by the author or by other forum members. We are not saying there could not be any improvements, like more easily reachable grammar explanations, some drills involving the letters of the alphabet and some other general exercises about grammar and vocabulary. But those minor deficiencies will never endanger Learn Assyrian Aramaic http://www.assyrianlanguage.com from its position as one of the best language-teaching sites on the internet.

Here’s what UniLang member zhiguli says about the site, so that you can see that it’s not just us who love the site:

Here is a site where you can learn Syrian/Assyrian Aramaic, said to be the language Jesus spoke. (A warning: the language being taught is the classical one, so it will be of limited use speaking to modern Assyrians. For that you can go to http://www.learnassyrian.com/).

The site itself belongs to the first class of language-teaching sites on the net. It is fairly complete, proceeding in carefully measured lessons, starting with each letter of the alphabet, and proceeding through verb conjugations and noun declensions (all with sound files and vowel marks for good measure). And with new lessons being added all the time it may very well be possible to learn the language using this one site alone.

The site’s owner seems to be quite involved in the development of his site (in contrast to many others that are left to stagnantly float around in cyberspace), regularly visiting the forum and answering most questions.

There’s really nothing bad I can say about this site. If only all language-teaching sites were like this one…

We can do nothing but agree with zhiguli (This proves that language freaks tend to think alike). We do believe Learn Assyrian Aramaic site is not only a pattern to be followed when creating language courses for languages which do not employ the Latin alphabet but also the proof that it is possible to learn ‘dead’ languages in a living and interesting way.

Written by E}{pugnator

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Originally published in Babel Babble